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Horse Terminology, Lingo, Terms & More!

Dean Eby

Your first time in a boarding stable, you might feel like you’ve suddenly been transported to a different country. There are so many words flying around that you’ve never heard before, and no one likes to feel like they’re the only person not “in the know.” Lucky for you, we’ve put together this basic guide of horse terminology. Read through it, and you won’t feel so out of place next time you head to the stables and someone starts talking about how many hands their Yearling is.

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Terms Referring to Horses

The following terms are all referring to horses of different sexes, sizes, or life stages, making it easy to distinguish between different types of horses.

Pony

equine pony

Ponies are miniature horses that are no taller than 14.2 hands when fully grown.


Mare

pregnant grulla gray mare
Image Credit: HTurner, Shutterstock

A mare is any adult female horse that’s three years or older.


Stallion

palomino stallion horse
Image Credit: Lisa Kolbenschlag, Shutterstock

Any adult male horse three years or older that’s not castrated is a stallion.


Gelding

gray gelding horse

A gelding is any male that’s three years or older that has been castrated.


Foal

equine foal lying in the grass

Foals are newborn horses that haven’t been weaned.


Colt

colt horse

Any male horse under three years of age.


Filly

filly horse running

Any female horse under three years of age.


Weanling

blue roan weanling horse

Any colt or filly that’s between 6 and 12 months of age.


Yearling

brown mold yearling horse

Any horse between one and two years old.

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Terms About Horses

In this section, all the terms will be used to describe something about a horse, such as its height or a component of its health.

two horses in the field

Hand

Horses’ heights are measured in hands. A hand is equal to four inches.


Points

A horse’s points are its mane, lower legs, ear tips, and tail. This term is used when describing the horse’s color.


Lame

A horse is lame when it has an injury that affects its health or performance.


Sound

Sound horses are healthy animals that are free from injuries that affect their health or performance.


Gait

Gait refers to the four different speeds a horse can travel. The four speeds are walk, trot, canter, and gallop.


Conformation

This is a term about the condition of a horse’s body. Horses with good conformation are hardier and have a higher chance of remaining healthy and sound.

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Horse-Related Terms

Not all horse-related terms specifically discuss horses or their traits. The following terms are referring to things that are simply related to horses in some way.

Tack

horse with western saddle

Any equipment used with a horse such as a bridle or saddle is called tack.


Weaning

foal and mare

Gradually separating a foal from its mother is a process known as weaning.


Lunge Line

puszta-horse-pixabay

The lunge line is a long rein that’s usually about 20-40 feet in length meant for lunging a horse.


Lunging

horse lunging

Done on a lunge line, lunging is a manner of exercising a horse entailing the horse circling the trainer who’s holding the other end of the lunge line.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Dean Eby

An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan.  He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning.  An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.